This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Official Information request 'Endocrinologists providing Gender Dysphoria Services, Hutt Valley DHB'.

Your right to know
How to find out
what you want to know
from Central and
Local Government.

MOJ 023 Info Act Pamphlet  27/6/01  1:34 PM  Page 1
What is Official Information?
Official Information is any information held by the
Government, including:

Ministers of the Crown in their official capacity;

Government departments and organisations;

Local authorities, territorial and regional councils and
community boards;

State-owned enterprises;

Educational institutions, including Boards of Trustees;

Public hospitals.
A full list of the organisations that you can request information
from can be found in the Directory of Official Information,
which is published by the Ministry of Justice every two years.
The Directory is available in public libraries, and on the
Ministry of Justice website
What is the law on access to official information?
There are two Acts that govern access to official information: 

the Official Information Act 1982; and 

the Local Government Official Information and
Meetings Act 1987. 
The guiding principle is that information must be made
available unless good reason exists under the Acts for
withholding it.
The purpose of the law is to:

increase the availability of official information to promote
more effective public participation in the making and
administration of laws and policies; 

to promote the accountability of Ministers of the Crown
and government officials; and

protect sensitive information where necessary in the public
interest or to preserve personal privacy.

MOJ 023 Info Act Pamphlet  27/6/01  1:34 PM  Page 2
What information can you ask for?
You can ask for:

access to any specified official information;

reasons for decisions made about you;

internal policies, principles, rules or guidelines; and

meeting agendas and minutes of public bodies, including
those not open to the public.
You can also ask for personal information about yourself.
However, this type of information is covered by the Privacy Act
1993, not the Official Information Act. If you are requesting
personal information about someone other than yourself this is
covered by the Official Information Act. 

If a person or an organisation holds personal information
about you then you have rights under the Privacy Act. The
Act applies to personal information held by almost every
person or organisation in New Zealand, though there are
some specific exceptions, including Members of Parliament,
the Ombudsmen, the Courts and the news media.

The Privacy Act controls how people and organisations
collect, use, disclose, store and give access to personal
information. For example, under the Act you can apply to
the relevant person or organisation if you want a copy of,
or access to, personal information held about yourself. You
may also ask for it to be corrected.

Any person may make a complaint to the Privacy
Commissioner if they think that there has been a breach of
their privacy by a person or organisation holding their
personal information. 

For further information on your specific rights or on how
to make a complaint you can contact the Privacy Hotline
on (0800) 803 909 or look at the Office of the Privacy
Commissioner’s website at 
O F F I C I A L   I N F O R M A T I O N   A C T

MOJ 023 Info Act Pamphlet  27/6/01  1:34 PM  Page 3
How do you request information?
Making a request is simple:

Contact the Minister, department, organisation or local
authority (Mayor, councillor or council staff ) concerned
and ask for the information;

Be as specific as you can in identifying what information
you are looking for;

Requests are best made in writing, but you can ask for the
information in person or by telephone too; and

Keep a note of when, how and who you made your request
to (and keep a copy of any requests made in writing).
To help you identify what specific information you require the
Directory of Official Information provides the following details
about each organisation:

its structure, functions and responsibilities; 

the kinds of documents it holds; 

the manuals or other documents which contain policies,
principles, rules or guidelines; and 

the contact details of the people within the organisation to
send the request to.
Can anyone request official information?
Anyone who is in New Zealand can request official
information. New Zealand citizens overseas, and corporate
bodies with a place of business in New Zealand can also apply.
Do you have to pay?
There may be a charge, but it must be a reasonable one.

You should be told of the charge, or given an estimate,
before the information is provided;

Any charge will be related to the cost of the labour and
materials involved in making the information available; and 

If you think the charge is unfair you can complain to the
Ombudsman (see below).
Y O U R   R I G H T   T O   K N O W

MOJ 023 Info Act Pamphlet  27/6/01  1:34 PM  Page 4
How long will it take?

Your request must be answered within 20 working days.
The time limit for answering requests can be extended in
some cases but if this happens you must be told of the
extension and the reasons for it.

If you need the information urgently you can ask for the
request to be treated  as urgent but you must explain why.
How will information be provided?
If you want the information to be provided in a particular way
you should state this in your request:

you can ask for a copy of the information or to look at it;

you may listen to a tape recording or see a film or
videotape and you can ask for a transcript;

where information is stored in a computer you may ask for
a printout of that information.
Can information be withheld? 
Yes. Requests can be refused, but:

only if good reason exists under the Act for not releasing
the information (see below);

you must be told of the reason for the refusal; and

you must be informed of your right to ask the
Ombudsman to investigate the refusal.
A request for information can be refused under the Official
Information Act 1982. These reasons include:

the national security or defence of New Zealand;

the maintenance of the law;

trade secrets and commercial confidentiality;

personal privacy;

legal professional privilege;

the health and safety of the public;

the effective conduct of the decision making and policy
advice processes of government; and
O F F I C I A L   I N F O R M A T I O N   A C T

MOJ 023 Info Act Pamphlet  27/6/01  1:34 PM  Page 5

the administrative capacity of the organisation concerned to
process a request.
Sometimes you may be given some but not all information
requested, e.g. a document with sensitive parts deleted.
Can you complain about a decision?
Yes. You can complain to the Ombudsmen (see below) if:

you are refused access to any information;

the person handling your request does not reply to you
within the time limit;

you are not happy with the length of an extended time

you believe that you have been charged an unreasonable
amount for the information; 

you are not happy with the way the information has been
made available or with any conditions placed on the use of
the information.
What is the Office of the Ombudsmen?
The Ombudsmen are independent Officers of Parliament who
can investigate complaints concerning New Zealand central,
regional and local government organisations and agencies. 
If an Ombudsman thinks your request for information should
not have been refused, or that your complaint is justified in any
way, he or she may make a recommendation to the Minister,
department, organisation or local authority concerned.
Recommendations are usually accepted. Many complaints are
resolved in the course of an Ombudsman’s investigation.
How do you make a complaint to the Ombudsman?
There is no charge for making a complaint to the Ombudsmen.
Simply address a letter to the Ombudsmen saying:

what information you asked for;

who you requested it from, and when; and

what the reply was to your request.
Attach copies of any relevant correspondence.
Y O U R   R I G H T   T O   K N O W

MOJ 023 Info Act Pamphlet  27/6/01  1:34 PM  Page 6
If you would like further information, or you have trouble
writing a complaint you can call the office of the Ombudsmen
on freephone (0800) 802 - 602 or visit their website at
Complaints about refusals to release official information should
be directed to one of the Offices of the Ombudsmen:
PO Box 10 - 152,
The Terrace,
Freephone (0800) 802 - 602
Level 5,
17 Albert Street,
Level 6,
764 Colombo Street,
Corner Colombo and Armagh Street,
PO Box 13-482,
Complaints about refusals to release or correct personal
information should be directed to one of the Offices of the
Privacy Commissioner:
Box 466,
Freephone (0800) 803 909
Box 10 - 094,
The Terrace,
Any other information can be obtained from the Ministry of
Justice at:
PO Box 180,
O F F I C I A L   I N F O R M A T I O N   A C T